My grandmother ended her days in an asylum. Back in the day, that’s where crazy people were kept. I never knew the crazy side of her, but she did always have this sort of other worldly presence, almost as if she’d only just popped by from the land of the faerie to have a cuppa. Tall and thin, she smoked like a chimney, although pretended the habit didn’t exist. Probably not good traditional wife material.
My grandfather was a large presence in my younger days. I liked the old bloke. My dad left at an age where memories are few, so my grandfather took me under his wing. He was an ambitious old bloke too, with a lot of plans in his head, and he gave me what time he could. Probably conveyed some good life lessons over the years, not to mention gardening tips. Shame it was all wasted, me being too young to take it all in.
The old blokes home life wasn’t quite what he’d anticipated. An other-worldly wife and three daughters was probably not how he saw the world working out. That can happen, and he was thrown way deep into a feminine household. Would have been quite the shock after having served this country in WWII. The old bloke simply dusted himself off, and threw himself into his work, achieving great success. His household was probably somewhere between the land of faerie and the world the rest of us inhabit. And I reckon he washed his hands of any responsibility.
My mother was born into that strange household as the eldest of three girls. Pride can sometimes make a person pretend that they’re invulnerable, and my mum rarely shared stories of her childhood. The shared stories I did hear sure sounded pretty kooky. She dealt with her trauma by loving a drink and getting angry. Little wonder my dad left. A bit wild really. But like her father, she worked hard and kept a roof over our heads and food upon the table. When university was made free in 1974, she worked full time and studied part time earning an Arts degree, back when that meant something. She was busy.
My two older sisters ended up running the household. They were probably a bit young for that, but they more or less did OK. Mostly I did my own thing and kept out of the way of the drama, which trust me, that was for the best. Like what my grandfather ended up in, it was also a very feminine household. However, unlike him I wasn’t able to pretend it was someone else’s problem. A lovely lady I was speaking with the other day who was asking me about this story and made the observation: ‘Wouldn’t all that make you gay?’ A strange observation, to which I replied: ‘No. I’m me, and I like women’. The correct reply would have been: ‘Why did you say that?’, but I had no stomach that day for contention. It’s strange, but it’s not the first time I’ve heard such talk.
The observation got me thinking further about the whole story. Why would someone believe that? After much consideration, the core concern expressed by others is: “why wouldn’t you do as I have done?” It is not lost on me that there is a lot of pressure in society to conform to an ideal, even if the ideal is unachievable. Wonderful things ideals, they don’t even have to be realistic! However, my lived experience is such that I’ve observed plenty of people chasing that ideal, only to then crash upon the rocks of reality. And in among life, there can be a missed opportunities to go off and do something different with your time.
There’s plenty of different ways to get through life. Both Sandra and I have been burned by family, not to mention the economic recession we-had-to-have in the 1990’s. Faced with those experiences, we steered the juggernaut that is Fernglade Farm off in a different direction than most people would chose. It’s hard work, but we also have fun. It’s probably quite baffling for other people to see Sandra and I during normal working hours at our leisure enjoying a cup of coffee and reading a book. It ain’t all that bad.
The profession we both work in has changed a lot in the past few years. For all sorts of reasons, it’s getting hard to take extended breaks. We’ve decided that the best way to navigate the constant work demands, is to take a bit of time of here and there. A few days ago we stayed in the city and went to see the stadium performance of the English band: Florence and the Machine.
The performance was beautiful and a bit like being drawn into the land of faerie, although much, much louder. And after so many years and restrictions due to the health subject which dare not be named, it was lovely to hang out with tens of thousands of other people bopping along to the performance.
On the way to dinner before the performance at a riverside bar, we crossed over a bridge and I spotted the largest steel rock gabion retaining wall, that I’ve ever seen. Shows where we might be able to go with these things!
It’s a long weekend here due to the Labour Day public holiday. Every year at this time, the Moomba festival is held, so after dinner on our way to the gig, we walked through the festival and were amused by the carnies and horrified by the rides. A fun night!
The land of faerie is never far away, you have to be careful it doesn’t suck you in! Friday night the boundaries were a bit blurred as the night sky was lit up by a Ned Kelly full moon. A bit spooky really!
The state government appears to have finally gotten off its backside and begun conducting some burn off’s around the mountain range. About time they got around to doing that work, and I guess it’s better than nothing. They’re just too careless and remote to do the job properly. There was one large burn off near to the base of the more fashionable western end of the mountain range.
And another smaller burn off was lit near to the town of Macedon. I spotted the fire from here and hoped that whomever lit it, knew what they were doing.
The wind was blowing from the west, so the smoke mostly missed us. By late afternoon, the wind changed direction and arrived from the south. Again the smoke missed us although you could still smell it from here. A change in wind direction can be a very dangerous thing with a big fire.
The weather has been remarkably pleasant this week. Not too hot, not too cold, but just right! A few weeks ago, we’d constructed three steel rock gabion cages with which we’d hope to build an inspection pit for the various machines we use here. Most of the machines sit pretty low to the ground, so getting underneath them for maintenance and repair purposes is not so easy. An inspection pit will sort that out. We just had to construct it.
A large flat area near to the large shed was dug. The three new steel rock gabion cages were placed on the flat area. Then we began the slow process of filling the cages with rocks which we’ve had to scrounge from all over the farm – even dismantling one existing gabion cage.
The idea is to drive the machines onto the surface of the steel rock gabion cages. Then I’ll be able climb into the crawl space and safely poke around the undersides of the machines and perform whatever maintenance or repairs are required. There is no fear of having the machines squash me with this arrangement.
We’ve done another round of tomato dehydrating this week. It’s nice to see the preserved tomato storage filling up again. It’s a lovely time of year for foraging in the garden. The other day I even noticed that the new hop vines have even produced some hops flowers.
The snow pea harvest finished this week, and I removed all of those vines from the garden row. They’ll get mulched up. There are plans to double the area for growing peas next summer. As the peas finish their harvest, the beans become ready.
The grapevines are still only a few years old, so my expectations are low. But the most well established of the ten varieties is producing some good looking clusters of grapes. They’re still unripe though.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 9am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 107.6mm (4.2 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 102.8mm (4.0 inches)